Here Is What Doctors Need to Know About Machine Learning And Artificial Intelligence

Statistics show that today we are battling a global shortage of doctors. According to the World Health Organization, there is a global shortfall of over 4.3 million doctors and nursing staff across the world. This shortage of doctors might not be impacting the U.S that much but the country is plagued by increasing healthcare costs that limit the time that a patient can spend with a doctor. In countries such as India that has a huge rural population and some parts of Africa for example, there is a shortage of doctors and access to good medical services. Doctors too are feeling the brunt of these rising pressures and are now looking at avenues to improve their efficiencies to improve patient outcomes and have been open to technology adoption to facilitate the same.

One technology that is gaining prominence in the healthcare sector is Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. A study by Frost & Sullivan highlights that the AI market in healthcare is expected to grow to $6.6 billion by 2021 from USD 7,988.8 million in 2016. According to Accenture, the use of AI in healthcare can save the industry over $150 billion over the next decade. So what is it that makes AI and Machine Learning, computing systems that can complete designed tasks independently of human intervention using algorithms that can self-learn, so beneficial to the healthcare sector?

Faster Diagnostics

Machine Learning is not just beating up board game experts but is being used extensively to recognize disease symptoms in patients. Machine Learning and AI applications can scan through thousands of documents much faster than humans can. These applications are therefore perfect for running diagnostics for medical cases that demand record and diagnostic comparisons. Analysis of tests, X-Rays, CT scans, etc. can be done faster and more efficiently by AI and machine learning systems. For example, IBM’s supercomputer Watson established its credibility as Dr. Watson when it diagnosed the exact condition that was plaguing a leukemia patient by cross-referencing patient information with over 20 million oncology records. Watson not only came up with the right diagnosis but also did the same in a matter of minutes using the power of the computing system.

Preventive Medication

Doctors across the globe are leaning in heavily towards preventive medicine. AI and machine learning systems have been of great help in this area as the computing power of these systems can help assess which patients will need medical intervention when a patient or patients are likely to fall sick, common denominators causing recurring ailments in patients etc. Using these diagnostics, doctors can take a more preventive approach to medicine for better patient health and reduce hospital readmissions.

Good pre and post-operative care are essential to reduce the rate of readmissions in hospitals. But how can doctors ensure that their patients are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the same? AI systems come of great help here. AI applications can help in providing timely alerts pre and post operation regarding the care the patient should take. They can help in optimizing the doctor’s time and schedule by ensuring that the most pressing and urgent messages reach them first. Along with this, AI and machine learning applications also have the capability to assess the mental state of the patient and hence can be immensely helpful in mental health cases. Using this information, doctors can assess who will need medical intervention and also determine the timeframe for the same.

Robots in the OT

No, the robots are not replacing the doctors in the operating room but are being of immense assistance there. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks of the operating room such as making sutures can now be done with the help of robotic automation that helps in reducing surgery time. Along with this, you have the cognitive robots who are taking pre-operative medical information and integrating it with real-time operating metrics to increase the surgeon’s instrument precision. This also helps in improving patient safety as the more tedious and routine parts of the surgery are replaced with robots running on the power of AI and Machine Learning.

Telemedicine, Online Consultations and Virtual Nurses

Voice-powered AI applications are here to answer patients queries regarding their health. These applications help in better health management, chronic disease management, and long-term maintenance, and also assess patients for potential health risks. These AI applications called virtual nursing assistants are expected to become an industry staple and help the healthcare industry save more than $20 billion. These intelligent AI applications help in reducing the time taken during physician interactions as they provide answers to most of the patient queries. The time spent with the doctor thus becomes more productive and can be leveraged more effectively.

Machine learning and AI are also helping doctors in making telemedicine more efficient by aiding better diagnosis, enabling remote monitoring using machine learning, detecting rare genetic diseases, and solving logistical challenges by using predictive analytics.

AI and machine learning are here to act as the efficient doctor’s assistants. The aim of AI and machine learning, unlike what is written, is not to replace the doctors but to help them increase their efficiencies and replace the burden of mundane tasks from their shoulders so that they can focus on the human elements of patient care.

4 Ways Smartphones Can Help Patients and Doctors Save Valuable Time

The past couple of years have seen the monumental impact that the smartphone has had on our everyday lives. From banking to retail, to manufacturing…there is hardly an industry that has not been touched by the smartphone revolution. Healthcare is no different. The smartphone has made inroads into the healthcare segment to improve efficiencies and aid decision-making. Modern-day healthcare mobile apps, leveraging digital technologies, cloud computing, etc. are working towards upending every aspect of healthcare and place the doctor and the patient in the centre stage.

The smartphone revolution had also led to the consumerization of healthcare. Patients want to now take charge and be in control of their healthcare decisions, want more clarity regarding healthcare and demand value of their time. At the same time, physicians juggling multiple clinics and hospitals demand more control of their time.

In this blog, we take a look at a few ways smartphones can assists doctors and patients save valuable time.

Access to Complete Health Records

Physical documents are not only hard to manage but also prone to getting lost and can be difficult to organise. In most cases, healthcare history and health records are stored in fragments…some with a medical practitioner, some at a hospital or some at home, etc. In order to save time during a consultation, having access to the complete medical history saves both the physicians’ and the patients’ time. Mobile apps can be used to upload the patient’s complete health history, lab reports, test results, pathological reports, prescriptions, x-rays, etc. which can be securely accessed both by the doctor and the physician. No time is then lost rummaging for information since all of it is documented in an organised manner on the handy smartphone itself and can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Clearer Communication

How many times have you, as a patient, gone and spent time waiting at a doctor’s clinic only to be told that you need to come back after conducting certain tests? Even doctors, who always are time constrained, have spent time with patients going through their records only to realise that they need to send the reports for a consult with someone else or need the patient to go for another round of tests.

The healthcare scenario is replete with such examples where better communication between the patient and doctor could help both capitalise their time and reduce time wastage. Smartphone health apps can improve the channels of communication between doctors and patients. Since all the health care records, data and information are stored and uploaded to the application, the doctors can easily access these and identify if additional investigations need to be conducted, additional consults need to be made or if the patient can be sent a message regarding any vital piece of information to manage his/her health. The doctors can also share the patients’ medical report with other doctors for consultation with just a tap on the screen which also contributes to saving a lot of time.

Further, using the smartphone, doctors can send patients automated updates regarding health management and pre and post-op management instead of having to do so physically.

With access to their health data, patients too can ask more relevant and focused questions to their doctors. They can discuss medications, side effects, health impacts of their current physical condition etc. more accurately with their doctors. This ensures that the time spent with the physician is optimised and the discussion there is result-driven.

Finance Management

Medical finances can be quite complex to manage and lead to a lot of time wastage for both, the doctor and the patient. Smartphone apps can help immensely here by keeping track of all medical expenses for the patient. Medical bills, doctors’ fees, insurance claims details, cost of lab reports, hospital reports etc. can all be stored the mobile app and accessed from the smartphone whenever required. For doctors too, mobile apps can be of great help in making finance management simpler and more organised. Instead of wasting their time managing their financial transactions and making sure that these are organised, doctors can simply use a smartphone app to centrally store and manage all financial information such as transactions, referral fees, consultation charges, clinic and hospital billings etc. easily and access them whenever needed easily.

Analyse This

Data is king. It gives us detailed and quantified insights to make better and well-informed decisions – both for the patients and the doctors. Better decisions mean better health and patient management which consequently translates to optimal time usage and lesser time wastage. Access to medical health analytics can be easy using a good smartphone app. These apps compare health history, evaluate crucial checkpoints, and reveal relevant data that gives patients intelligent insights into their current state of health. Armed with this information the patients can take preventive steps to improve their health and avoid medical problems.

Doctors also can leverage healthcare analytics to better schedule their time and take a more preventive approach to health and disease management. Analysing medical and health data can inform doctors when patients tend to get sick most, the kind of health risks emerge at which times in the year, what kind of tests are being run repeatedly, what factors are contributing to repeated ailments etc. Analytics also helps in better clinic and practice management – all of this ensure that the time at hand can be used for the best purpose.

Clearly, time today has become the ultimate commodity and a common denominator for both physicians and patients. As the smartphone becomes a ubiquitous part of our lives, it only makes sense to use it to increase the time efficiency of our healthcare interactions and make sure that the time doctors and patients have at hand is utilised in the best possible manner – in decisive conversations that make health better.

Performance Perfect – Cloud Technology for Clinics and Hospitals

Technology has been the great enabler of efficiencies across industries and organizations. Amongst other industries, the healthcare sector too has warmed up to the adoption of technology to improve patient outcomes. Greater information exchanges, streamlined processes, better access to patient data and patient information, and better hospital outcomes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the advantages of technology adoption in healthcare.

Most large organizations are investing heavily in IT systems that help them achieve better outcomes. However, is technology adoption exclusive to larger hospitals? As patient expectations from healthcare providers continue to grow, it is becoming evident that technology adoption cannot be exclusive to larger hospitals and healthcare units. In order to meet patient expectation and increase efficiencies, smaller clinics cannot remain locked in the paper trap and have to look towards technology. The cloud is one such technology that can help both large hospitals and small clinics remove infrastructure burdens and improve patient outcomes.

The Cloud has been one of the most disruptive technologies of our times. While there is a lot that has been written about how the Cloud is transforming healthcare, in this blog, we take a look at how cloud can help smaller practices improve their outcomes and focus on what really matters – the patient

Zero infrastructure demands

One of the greatest advantages of the cloud is that it has no infrastructure demands. Cloud solutions do not demand heavy capital expenditure and allow acquisition of IT resources on demand thereby providing a cost effective deployment model. Clinicians wanting to leverage the power of the cloud can simply purchase or subscribe for a cloud-based solution and upload their information into this application environment.

Easy implementation and scalability

Comprehensive cloud solutions can be set up almost immediately. Anyone with absolute no technical knowledge can start using the solutions within a matter of few minutes. Additionally, these applications can be easily scaled according to demand. Adding multiple users, increasing functionalities, modules etc. can be done at the click of a button.

Data security

One of the challenges facing technology adoption was that of data security. However, today’s cloud applications encrypt data in rest and in transit to satisfy the data security concerns of clinicians. Instead of keeping patient records and patient history in a hard copy format that can easily get lost or misplaced, the cloud provides clinicians a way to keep a central information repository and provides application level security. This ensures that only the authorised personnel have information access and that this healthcare data is not misused or misplaced at any given time.

Mobility

The cloud gives doctors and clinicians the capability to host all patient related information in a central repository thus making medical history management inherently easier.  Since doctors are almost always on the move, they need a technology solution that helps them stay productive even when they are on the move. The cloud enables mobility and helps doctors access all patient related information, medical records, test results etc. from the convenience of their preferred device – be it a smartphone or a tablet – and also helps them upload and share information from their mobile device irrespective of their location.

Cost advantage

With Cloud, clinicians have to pay just for the usage on a month-on-month basis. They don’t need to invest heavily in infrastructure and hardware and software. Cloud-based applications can simply be accessed from the web browser. By leveraging the pay-per-use model provided by cloud service providers, clinicians can significantly lower their technology investments.

Improved doctor-patient interaction

Several cutting-edge cloud-based clinic management solutions allow doctors to stay connected with their patients. Using such solutions, clinicians can empower their patients to monitor their own health and store their own health records online. Using this patient data, the doctors can suggest more accurate treatment to their patients. Also, since the information is stored online, patients don’t need to carry heavy files and documents of their medical history with them and at the same time, they can completely update their doctors about their health status.

As the consumerisation of healthcare continues, doctors should look at technologies such as the cloud to help doctors manage their time and resources better and improve the quality of patient interactions.

At Mars Plus, we have created a fully-integrated healthcare platform, specifically for the needs of Indian Medical Practitioners. It helps physicians better manage their practice through a single mobile-friendly system. With modules for patient management, billing management, finance management, referrals and multiple clinic management, Mars Plus makes it easy for doctors to manage all the aspects of their practice, ensure compliance, get more patient time, and offer better patient care. Know more about it at http://marspls.com.

 

5 Technologies That Are Finding Their Home In Modern Clinics

In a doctor’s overscheduled life, the one thing that has elevated premium is ‘time’. Hospital visits, clinics, surgeries, and paperwork are just a few of the things that fill up a doctor’s day. With little or no time left in hand after doing the most important thing that they do, that is to look after their patients, managing a doctor’s diary is no mean feat. However, given the time that we are in, technology is making itself quite comfortable in the doctor’s clinic and helping that ecosystem become more organised, sorted and productive, which, at the end of the day, is making the life of the doctor easier to manage. In this blog, we take a look at five technologies that are making their home in modern day clinics and helping them function better, smarter and with greater efficiency

Appointment Management System

Managing multiple calendars for appointment management is a time-consuming task, one that is prone to the errors of overscheduling which leads to poor time management. Modern day clinics are leveraging appointment management applications that give them a bird’s eye view of the doctor’s schedule and helps them plan, schedule and organise patient appointment better and avoid overlaps. Since most doctors usually have more than one clinic to run, with the help of such a system scheduling and re-scheduling of appointments can be done with greater efficiency and each clinic can keep track of the daily appointment schedule without the burden of unnecessary overlaps.

Patient Data Management

In order to enhance the quality of care and improve patient outcomes, patient data management systems are being leveraged not only by large hospitals but smaller clinics as well. Having a central data repository that contains all the relevant patient information can be a huge boon for the doctors. There are so many times that the doctor and patient’s time is rendered unproductive because the patient is not able to provide some relevant report or health-related information at the time of the appointment. Having a record of all reports, x-rays, blood work, scans, lab reports, and other such test results and patient history etc. in one central database that can be accessed anytime, anywhere ensures that the time spent with the patient is productive and constructive and unnecessary delays are avoided at all costs.

Smartphones aka mHealth

Since smartphones today are being used for everything from managing your banking and finance activities to shopping, why should healthcare be left behind? Doctors today are using their smartphone for a lot more activities than just checking their emails. Healthcare applications that allow them to manage their practice, access patient data and health records, check their clinic’s finances, referrals and resource utilisation etc. are witnessing increased adoption. With the help of technologies such as the cloud, all the information that a doctor could want to ensure that his/her practice is running smoothly is now readily accessible at their fingertips through their smartphone. Utilising such integrated healthcare management applications is helping doctors manage their time better as they can access any piece of information that they want, when they want, irrespective of where they are.

Big Data Analytics

Big Data has generated a lot of hype and the healthcare industry is no stranger to this technology. While for a decade or so, big data adoption was done primarily by larger medical outfits and pharma companies to improve their outcomes, accelerate innovation and drive research, big data analytics is now making its home in modern day clinics as well. Such clinics are utilising data analytics to meet their analytics and reporting needs and improve patient outcomes. For example, with the help of big data analytics, clinics dig deep into patient data and lab results to identify trends in a year when a particular ailment strikes more viciously than others. It can also help them identify patients who are ‘at-risk’ for these ailments and help them take preventive action. Data analytics is also being used in clinics to analyse the relationships between treatment plans and diagnostics, identify potential treatment plans, establish benchmarks for quality, optimise operational workflow management and also create data-driven patient population lists.

AI Diagnostics

While computers and Artificial Intelligence cannot replace doctors, they most certainly can help the doctors by providing them with clinically relevant data in real-time to better patient outcomes. Diagnostic AI systems are already in use in some modern day clinics and use biometric data clubbed with the patients’ health data to assess the conversation between the doctor and patient and make notes and suggest treatment plans. AI systems also send pop-up notifications to the doctor’s phones when they see that a particular medication might not work for a person for some reason such as a genetic trait. This allows the doctor to change the prescribed medication quickly. These systems can also help doctors identify which patients are more likely to require certain medications in the future and assess the risks associated with alternate medications etc.

Just like hospital management systems have made hospital operations better and have significantly helped in improving patient outcomes, adopting technology in the modern day clinic is only going to improve efficiencies, help doctors win the race against time, and enable them to keep their focus on the singularly most important facet of the entire healthcare ecosystem – the patient.

A Guide to Healthcare IoT Opportunities

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the newest trends in technology and going by the research and buzz around it, it is clear that IoT has the potential to transform the healthcare sector as well as change our lives. This Healthcare IoT sector is on the high rise with every passing year. Analysts at MarketResearch.com claim that the worth of this sector is estimated to reach $117 million by the year 2020.

While the definitions of IoT may vary, essentially it essentially means transfer and exchange of data between systems, consumers, and devices. The increasing adoption of wearables is just the first step towards the huge potential of IoT in healthcare. With IoT, consumers are now able to take control of their own health and that too, in a very personalized manner.

Let us have a look at a few areas where IoT can have or is already having a huge impact –

Chronic Disease Management

Patients with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetics or heart diseases often have access to devices such as glucometers, pedometers or blood pressure monitors which they use regularly. The task for them is to maintain a record of their readings and present those to the doctor during the doctor’s visit. Any misrepresentation of data or incomplete information can affect the doctor’s judgment and treatment. IoT can bridge this gap – the devices can automatically send the periodic data to the doctor. The doctor can then perform various analytics on the data. With this, when the patient visits the doctor next, the doctor not only has the complete and accurate information about the patient’s readings but he also has opportunity to do the analysis himself and tweak the treatment.

Remote Health Monitoring

With Remote Health Monitoring, patients can receive the right care without leaving their homes. Through sensors or smartphone apps, the vital parameters of the patients can be constantly monitored and immediate alerts can be sent to the healthcare practitioner in case any concern. In case of any issues, the doctor can immediately connect with the patient through video consultation or mobile consultation and accordingly prescribe medication. Elderly patients find remote monitoring quite comforting because they can be assured that they are being constantly monitored and also have the option to speak to their doctor without having to leave their homes.

Preventive Care and Wellness

Wearables have taken the world by storm. Health enthusiasts swear by the fact that fitness bands have made them more cautious about their health. With wearable technology, consumers are able to monitor their crucial health parameters on a regular basis and are able to supervise their own health conveniently.

Medication Dispensing

Medication dispensing service is one of the most successful applications of IoT. Elderly people face several issues with their medication – they tend to forget to take their medication, sometimes they take the wrong pills or take incorrect doses. Medication dispensing device relieves the patients from this worry – Through a light or voice reminder, it alerts a patient when it’s time to take medication. On getting the reminder alert, the patient has an option to push a button and the right medication with the right dosage is automatically dispensed. The device is synced to the user’s phone keeping a complete record of missing doses, medication refill time etc.

While the applications and uses of Internet of Things technology are innumerable and the implementations have the potential to bring a positive change in the lives of patients at large, it could raise concerns around data security and privacy. Although most of the current communication from devices happens through the cloud, the data cannot be claimed to be immune from hackers. Different devices coming from different systems don’t necessarily have common controls around them. We are sure that as the adoption grows, these issues will be ironed out because IoT definitely has the significant potential to lower healthcare costs, improve case, improve patient outcomes, and enhance decision making.